Transplanted Life
Saturday, May 29, 2004
 
Little things
Not really much happening in the last day or so, so I'll just write down a few quick observations:

* Carter and I have been sharing the bed for the past couple weeks or so. It wasn't any big deal; we were just exhausted one evening, flopped onto the bed just to get off our feet, and woke up the next morning without any ill effects. So, the next night I was about to lay my sleeping bag out on the floor and he just grabbed the pillow and put it on the bed beside his, and there was no discussion.

It's a little awkward sometimes, since even though he's basically functional during the day, he seems to have nightmares. I don't know whether it's because of all the shit he's been through or just a quirk of Samantha's nervous system, since neither Carter nor Mikhail in his body was what you'd call an active sleeper, but right now Carter tends to fidget. Mostly it's just a matter of hogging the covers, but last night he actually kicked me awake. And that body may be small, but he has been working out.

At least I know where the other stuff is coming from. By the other stuff I mean when I'll wake up and he's got his arm on top of me, or he's using my breasts or belly as a pillow (which takes some contortion; the bed's not that large). It's a little weird, but you can't really hold someone responsible for what they dream. Still, he's going to have to move on at some point.

* Despite ten-plus months of acclimitization (if that's a word), I still don't get the shoe thing. I mean, yeah, I understand that they're going to be a more important part of the wardrobe what with the legs people run their eyes up and down, but I still don't see much need to have more than a pair of black heels, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of flats that let me move quickly without being as casual as sneakers.

And painting toenails? I just don't get it. It looks really silly and is a pain in the neck. Besides, it makes people look at my feet, and that just feels weird. I don't remember anyone ever staring at my feet as a man, but as a woman, people do it. Both sexes. From the men, it's a little creepy - I mean, staring at my boobs, I get, but my toes? From the women, it generally seems to be "how can she be wearing those ratty sneakers"? I'm wearing jeans with a tear in the knee and a T-shirt that's had its sleeves ripped off, but their eyes are on that bit of fraying on my tennis shoes. I almost feel guilty, like I've broken some rule that real girls are told about on their twelfth birthday or something.

* I filled in job applications at movie theaters today. While the idea of free movies as an employment perk is nice, it's what I did for a part-time job during college. Nothing like feeling your life is running in reverse, huh?

-Marti
Friday, May 28, 2004
 
When does it become prosititution?
Not that I'm totally opposed to the concept of sex for money - it is, after all, a marketable skill - but it's not for me. Besides, even if I were willing to accept the inherent safety risks, or if I wasn't afraid of viewing sex as just a job, I have to figure that the person who probably still thinks of himself as Michelle wouldn't like it. Not that I feel I need Michelle's approval for everything I do in my life, but even if there's no way to ever switch us back, presuming that's what she wants, I don't feel it's my place to do any harm to her good name or reputation.

Where's all this coming from? Well, I went out to dinner with Doug last night, and Carter made a crack about selling Michelle's body for the price of a steak dinner. Which is so wrong. Aside from the old, hey, you bought a few dinners without thinking me some kind of strumpet, it's not like I was even looking to fool around. Truth be told, I was looking to pick his brain more than anything.

Of course, even that... Hey, I know what it's like for a man. A girl meets you for dinner, she's wearing a nice dress and has shaved her legs, and even if you're not getting any tonight... Well, it puts you in a suggestible state of mind, hoping for the future. What guy hasn't been at a woman's mercy because of her good looks? Sometimes men are charitable, and say the lady doesn't even realize or understand the effect she has on men, since she's probably always been good-looking and guys wanting to accomodate her has just been a fact of life. Other times they'll resent it, in part because they don't like that they can be manipulated so easily. And because sometimes it is that calculated.

Like last night. I wanted to pick Doug's brains, get some legal advice/research that his firm would normally probably charge hundreds of dollars an hour for, so I made myself pretty. I shaved my legs, used that hair-curling thing in the bathroom that quite frankly scares the hell out of me, dithered over what to wear, examined my make-up closely in the mirror... It took me, as Carter pointed out in disgust, something like three hours to get ready for a dinner date that would most likely last two. He couldn't argue with the result, though - he said something about times like this being when he really, really misses his penis. Also, that if he ever gets enough practice to walk on three-inch heels without falling on his face, I'm to shoot him.

But I figured I had to look extra-special sexy and feminine; after all, when dinner was served, I asked him what Carter and I would have to do in order to legally reclaim our identities. I mean, if I were in his position, and a woman I liked (who has some high-quality anatomy, if I do say so myself) asked how to legally be a man again, I'd want some sort of assurance that this was about property and one's academic/employment history as opposed to not wanting to be a woman any more. So I wear shoes that make my ass wiggle, put on lipstick, wear a skirt that makes crossing legs mandatory and a top that occasionally flashes some cleavage...and smile the whole time. Make sure he knows I like this body, and I like him, and wouldn't it be nice if you could tell people that your maybe-girlfriend was a computer programmer who had graduated college as opposed to someone who never went and answers the phone while looking pretty for a living?

I mean, that's kind of shameless. It's not trading sex for money, but it is using my body to try and get something of value. I really don't think that's too much of a bad thing - if I'd woken up a muscular seven-foot-tall man, I doubt I'd lose sleep over whether or not I should play basketball - but I'm not exactly unbiased here.

Of course, he immediately threw some cold water on the idea. Proving I was in some way Martin Hartle would be next to impossible. My DNA says I'm Michelle Garber, for starters. And since there is no legal way for one person to assume another's identity (and, in fact, a whole bunch of laws saying it's a Bad Thing), it would involve creating precedent. Carter or I would have to do something claiming to be "ourselves", be rebuffed, and then sue to get a chance to prove that we were who we said we were. Which wouldn't be easy - even if we found a judge and/or jury that was open to the possibility, what would we have for evidence? An online diary that is linked to by a site that indexes fictional blogs. We can claim there are these other people who've been switched, but Sam/Andrei is comatose, Andrei/Martin is missing (and likely wouldn't testify on our behlaf), Michelle/Mikail is in a foreign country, location unknown... Dmitri is a convicted criminal even if he doesn't perjure himself, and my bosses at BioSoft are being sued for ethics violations.

There is physical evidence that such things are possible, but the FBI is in possession of Dmitri's records. There's no guarantee that they would produce them under a subpeona, since they could cite national security, and even if a judge were to buy the argument that their denial to produce the evidence indicates it exists, it probably wouldn't be admissible. A Freedom Of Information Act request could take years. The lawsuit could take years even without it, and that's assuming that there isn't some sort of Patriot Act reason I could get charged with a national security crime for even making the attempt.

That's not to say Doug's not going to do some research and see what our options are, but he certainly made it sound grim. He said it's too bad that Dmitri didn't try to plead not guilty, since then the US and District Attorneys' offices would have had some reason to make an effort on our behalf in exchange for testimony, but as it stands now, we don't have a heck of a lot of leverage.

Carter said that just proves Doug's useless. I don't agree, but it certainly feels like we're on our own.

-Marti
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
 
Empty time
Being unemployed sucks. I try to make "finding a job" my new job, but try doing that for eight hours a day. It's more numbing than any job, and it's a constant stream of rejection and waiting. And in this economy and physical situation, even when I get an interview or a job, I figure it'll be a disappointment.

So half a week into it, and I'm being driven nuts. And, of course, I don't want to go out and see a movie or something that involves spending money. So the walls start closing in. I wish I had my old movie collection to fill time with. It's the same for Carter; he wants to join a gym, or just do something. But until we're working, we've got to keep the expenditures to a minimum.

It's weird, I want to dress up, put on my work clothes and stuff. Part of it's force of habit, but part of it's also feeling useful. I put on a t-shirt and jeans, and I'm just sitting around, killing time. I'm not earning, I'm not contributing... I'm just waiting. I've got nothing but time to think about what's become of my life over the past year. It's amazing just how much seems to be positive - I fell in love, I made friends, I got younger, Maggie and I are friends again, I think I grew as a person by having different viewpoints. I mean, I really find it easier to look at things from different perspectives now.

Is it wrong to be thankful for that? Well, not thankful - I don't feel any gratitude to Dmitri and Alexei Gubanov - but appreciative, perhaps? I feel that I, now, am a better person that Martin Hartle was a year ago. I suppose I can just say that that comes from within myself, but you can't leave the process out. I know what some people would say to this (you know who you are...remember, just because you have a dick doesn't mean you have to be one), but if it's what made me what I am today, and I like who I am...

Hmph. I think I need to (1) get some sleep and (2) find some sort of project to occupy my mind.

-Marti
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
 
Guilty
Well, Carter and I went to the courthouse yesterday to see Dmitri enter a "Guilty" plea. Guilty of manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnapping, possession of one or more controlled substances... They threw the book at him, and the strange thing is, he didn't do anything to get out of the book's way. I can't help but wonder about that. What could his motivations be? Carter and I spent the last couple of days puzzling it out, and we came up with a few, but none sound right:

1. Fear; I don't think Dmitri has the expertise on his own to create a mechanism to do what happened to us, which means whoever did probably still has the means to use it. Maybe he figures prison's the safest place for him.

2. The opposite; he's got some plan to switch with someone else and he figures that prison would be a safer place to stow his body than, say, a self-storage unit. Sure, whoever got swapped into his body might complain, especially since it's likely to be a woman (every switch-up I know of happened across gender lines), but the guards might dismiss it as Dmitri faking being nuts, and maybe stick him in solitary.

3. Protecting Andrei? Maybe by pleading guilty he figures he removes any leverage the government has in terms of finding his father in my body. Not just because he won't be tempted to rat him out, but it makes it harder for daddy to contact him, since the FBI would have him under surveilence even if he weren't in custody.

4. Cover-up. Everyone sees the government lock Dmitri up and throw away the key, and then he's stuck in witness protection or something, given a new name (at least!), and put to work. The feds get their hands on the technology to do the whole mix-and-match bodies thing, or the love potion - don't forget the goddamned love potion - but can tell Carter, me, Mr. Kraft, Maggie, anyone who knows that the investigation has reached a dead end.

Maybe I'm just being paranoid. It's easy to be paranoid; even if I figure I'm getting the short end of the stick, it's at least somewhat reassuring to think there's some kind of order to it. That someone's in control of the situation, and if I can just figure out who, I can somehow steer this thing.

-Marti
Sunday, May 23, 2004
 
Lousy bloody day
Part of the reason I try not to drink too much is that one hangover can screw up your whole sleep cycle for weeks. I get drunk Friday night, so I sleep in past noon yesterday, which means I'm wired until late. I convinced Carter to go see the midnight movie up the road at Coolidge Corner. Kind of a gyp to go see a Once Upon A Time In China movie and not get Jet Li as Wong Fei-Hung, or Rosamund Kwan. It's like the series went direct to video or something. And to make it worse, the projector bulb craps out during the final battle scene. Sure, we got free tickets out of it, but that still means it's quarter to two and we didn't get to see the end of our movie.

Looking for work was just a soul-draining experience. There's places looking for work, and I don't want to say anything is beneath me, but it's depressing. I at least could send resum├ęs as a receptionist to people advertising in the Sunday papers and on Monster; Carter was just stuck with retail. And I realize we're not alone in this. Lots of professionals are looking for jobs they wouldn't have taken five years ago. Still, I look at that stuff and think, I went to college for this.

Apparently I said it out loud, because Carter mentioned that I didn't. At least, if what I say is true, and I'm not Martin Hartle or Michelle Garber but some new, third person, then I have not, actually, been to college. Well, sure, technically I suppose that's the case, but I've got the expereinces and skills from it, so I have effectively gone to college.

He points out that "effectively" doesn't get you a diploma. I point out to him that the Haskinses would probably be thrilled if he called and said he was looking at colleges, but he says that doesn't apply to him, since he knows he's Carter Drummond and doesn't go in for any of that philosophical double-talk. I pointed out that belief didn't do much more for the diploma than "effectively", and he just sort of grumbled.

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Note: This blog is a work of fantasy; all characters are either ficticious or used ficticiously. The author may be contacted at JaySeaver@comcast.net